“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." Kate DiCamillo
Saturday, March 24, 2012
SLICE #24: TWO CONVERSATIONS: VAGUELY REMEMBERED
The boys were at the Crisis Center for about two weeks. The social worker allowed me to pick them up every morning about 7, take them to school, then feed them dinner and take them back to the Crisis Center about 5. The Crisis Center, on the west side of town, was about 45 minutes away from school, which was on the far east side of town.
That first week, someone at the Crisis Center told the boys they had a choice about whether or not they went to school. Isaiah chose to go, Kadeem chose not to go. (Some things never change: He would still much rather stay home and play video games than go to school). These first conversations, then, involve only Isaiah.
Conversation #1, the first day I pick Isaiah up for school:
Isaiah: So we are going to come and live with you?
Me: As soon as we can get all of the paperwork finished. There are a lot of rules about bringing kids home to live at your house.
Isaiah: But we are going to stay at your house?
Me: Yes, you are going to live with me. We are going to be a family.
Isaiah: Can I play on a football team?
Me (who is still trying to get her head around buying toothbrushes and underwear, and knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about youth football): Would you like to play on a football team?
Isaiah: Yes. E (an older brother who no longer lives with the boys) got to play on a team and he was really good. He got a trophy. Can I play on a team?
Me (wondering how in the world you set a kid up to play on a youth football team): Sure, buddy, we will find you a team.
For people who don't know my boys, and especially Isaiah, football basically defines him as a human being. He has played football every year since I adopted the boys, and was captain both his junior and senior years. This fall, he is supposed to go to Phoenix and play at a junior college, although that's still a little up in the air. The football field is the one place in the world where he is happy and confident. It is his place to shine
Conversation #2 (also that first week, maybe even the same day)
Isaiah: Will people think you are our mom?
Me (I'm pretty sure I know where is going): What do you mean?
Isaiah: Cuz we don't look like you.
Me: We will just tell them families are the people that love and take care of each other. And even if we don't look alike, we will love and take care of each other, so we are a family.
I am not sure Isaiah is totally convinced. A little later in the conversation, I know he is not.
Isaiah: So you don't have a husband?
Me: No sweetie, I have never been married.
Isaiah: But do you have a boyfriend?
Me: No, I don't have a boyfriend.
Isaiah: Well maybe you could get a boyfriend who is black. People would think he is our dad.
Me: That would be nice, but that might not happen. Boyfriends are hard to find. Families are made in people's hearts, not in the color of their skin. We are a family because we love and take care of each other.
At some point, maybe I will write some more about the issue of race and our family, but today, well, today, I gotta go grocery shopping, or my fellas are going to start eating the cupboards!
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It is so refreshing how children ask the tough questions and how things that appear complex or simple to adults seem to be in the same realm for them (football, marriage, skin color). I am wrapped up in your story and can't wait to hear more.
I love this post! :) I hope to adopt one day, and I love to hear other people's adoption stories. How old were the boys when you adopted them?
The boys were seven and nine when they moved in with me in 2003. There were lots of paperwork issues and it took about three years to formalize the adoption, but in my mind, they were adopted then.
Every time you write about your family, I feel like you are giving me a gift. Thank you for taking the time to capture these conversations. It's complex and simple all wrapped up in one giant ball called family -- isn't it? Lucky boys. Lucky momma. Lucky slicers to hear your story.
I laughed at your self words about figuring out football. As my older son was entering 7th grade, he told me that he wanted to play football. I knew about other sports, but nothing about football! I learned quickly. Even though he is no longer playing (he didn't want to play in college), I still have my "football mom" key chain. Enjoy the moments with your boys.
I couldn't agree with Ruth's comment more! This story of how you and the boys came to be a family is such a gift! You have to love how kids want to problem solve the issues they see - so concrete in their thinking.
I am so grateful that you choose to share this with us...and thanks you for sharing the boys' voices as well - children just get to the heart
I first related to Isaiah and your understanding of his love of football. I find my son feeling defined on the field or court whatever sport he is playing. Second, I love reading your posts because you are so honest with their voices and your own and I appreciate it as a reader who happens to be a mom and teacher too. Thank you.
I am not skipping these stories Carol! They are so wonderful to hear. And I guess since the boys are way older now that you have figured out that some of the important things about being a mom is keeping that refrigerator filled! Rule Number One I suppose. And thanks for this telling of your memory of this conversation. I love the strength in Isaiah as he asks what must have been the biggest questions on his mind. Thank you!
"Boyfriends are hard to find. Families are made in people's hearts, not in the color of their skin. We are a family because we love and take care of each other."
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